Pressured asylum officers, destination Guatemala, northern border slow down
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Shelters in Arizona have seen an increase in asylum seekers from India, the former Soviet Union and China, reports the Arizona Republic. “Some of the non-Spanish speaking arrivals have raised eyebrows among local pastors whose churches have been assisting migrant families released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” writes Daniel Gonzalez. “Not only are the non-Spanish speaking families from countries far from the United States, they carry their own cash and credit cards and appear much better educated than the mostly poor Central American families that federal immigration authorities had been dropping off earlier this year.”
When Dulce Gutiérrez was elected to Yakima City Council in Washington, she became a symbol of how the demographics of this farming community — and in many American cities — have become younger and more Latino, reports The New York Times. “In nearly 100 U.S. metropolitan areas — from Santa Fe to New York and dozens of cities in between — whites comprise the majority of residents over the age of 45, and the minority of adults younger than that,” write Dionne Searcey and Robert Gebeloff, in a piece that narrates the challenges that come when young, diverse leadership steps in. These demographics have made Gutiérrez a target for racists and those who don’t want their communities to change. The shifts are “defining a political moment in America where the president stokes tension along racial lines with immigration crackdowns, plans to build a wall along the Mexican border and disparaging comments, like telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to their “home” countries.”
Asylum & Refugees
The Trump administration began sending adult asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras back to Guatemala Wednesday to seek asylum there, reports BuzzFeed News. Only a few days before there was still confusion about the plan. As of last week, Guatemala still had not confirmed it would provide shelter, transportation and food for asylum seekers sent there, reports BuzzFeed News. Last week, The Washington Post reported that a plan was floated to fly asylum seekers to remote parts of the jungle along major drug trafficking routes. On Saturday, the U.S. said it decided against the plan, reports Reuters.
Remain in Mexico
Border officials pressured asylum officers to send asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, reports BuzzFeed News. Asylum officers told This American Life that migrants were held to an impossibly high standard and that almost all were sent back to Mexico, even when the officers advised against this. Asylum officer Doug Stevens said immigrants don’t know how to accurately say what is happening to them. “They threatened me because I’m Honduran, but that’s all they had to say. But they don’t know that, right?” said Stephens, who has since resigned in protest. Molly O’Toole reported the piece in collaboration with the LA Times for a special report on the Remain in Mexico program.
Michael Knowles, a former asylum officer who now leads a union of USCIS officers told lawmakers that the policy is illegal and immoral, reports Roll Call. After his testimony, Knowles told Newsy he believes many asylum officers are quietly leaving USCIS to work in other agencies where they aren’t pressured to make decisions they feel are immoral. “They live in hopes that Congress and the courts will prevail and put an end to these injustices,” he said.
A senior executive for the nation’s largest private prison company GEO Group stayed at Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. at least 10 times since Trump became a presidential candidate, reports The Daily Beast. GEO Group, which runs many immigrant detention centers, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting Trump’s campaign after the Obama administration signaled it would stop approving new federal private prison contracts. As the 2020 election heats up, the CEO of CoreCivic, another private prison company with ICE contracts, assured shareholders that it will continue to make profits no matter who is in office, reports AP.
Immigrant detention is highest in North Texas where the economy is strong, showing the “bipolar nature” of immigration policies that target workers that help America thrive, reports The Dallas Morning News. These arrests are tearing apart families like that of roofer Maximiliano Trejo, a Mexican migrant and father of two sons. “The boys were worried that the day the government men came knocking, the day the house with the cheery red door felt more like a military bunker under siege, would mark the end of their time as a normal family,” writes Dianne Solis.
ICE now holds immigrants who do not have criminal records for an average of 60 days, nearly double the average length of stay 10 years ago, reports The Washington Post. ICE says immigrant detention has increased because of the border crisis but immigrant advocates say it is because of the administration’s focus on deterrence tactics.
We Build The Wall — a group started by an Air Force veteran that has collected millions of dollars via GoFundMe to help Trump complete his border wall — was issued a cease and desist to stop construction of a three-mile stretch of border wall in south Texas, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The group did not have the proper permits to begin construction, reports BuzzFeed News.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration prepared court filings to seize private land in Texas for the border wall, reports NBC News. To date, Trump has achieved little progress on his border wall promise and construction of the first eight miles of new border wall just started this month.
The House passed a short-term spending bill Tuesday that could avoid another government shutdown over border wall funding, reports The Washington Post. It must pass the Senate and receive Trump’s signature by the end of the day Thursday to temporarily avoid a government shutdown. Lawmakers still have to make a long-term compromise about border wall funding to pass a full-year spending bill.
Along the U.S. northern border, towns whose economies were boosted by Canadian dollars are now struggling after border crossings decreased by nearly a quarter since 2014, reports The New York Times. Business owners blame tighter border controls aimed at the southern border.
When Massachusetts Judge Shelley Joseph helped an immigrant evade detention by allowing him to leave court through a back door, she unknowingly thrust herself into the national spotlight, reports The New York Times. She is now facing charges of obstruction of justice in a case that could set a precedent about the use of federal power to intimidate judges. After refusing to take a plea deal, it could be years before a court reaches a decision. In Oregon, a Supreme Court justice issued a new rule last week that requires ICE officers to have a judicial warrant to enter a courthouse, making it more difficult to carry out immigration enforcement in courts, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could criminalize immigration advocacy, reports Slate. The case will test the justices’ interpretation of the First Amendment, reviewing a provision that appears to criminalize any pro-immigration speech.
No More Deaths Volunteer Scott Warren was found not guilty Wednesday for harboring migrants in a case that sought to criminalize his work helping migrants in the Arizona desert, reports BuzzFeed News.
DHS and DOJ officials, who remained anonymous, called for the resignation of White House adviser Stephen Miller after racist emails written by Miller to right-wing outlet Breitbart were released, reports BuzzFeed News. But Miller continues to have a strong influence in the White House and many of his allies continue to climb the ranks. Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, a Miller ally who recommended USCIS stop shielding immigrants undergoing serious medical treatment from deportation, has been promoted to acting deputy director of USCIS, reports Mother Jones. Two people with ties to anti-immigrant hate group FAIR were also promoted within USCIS this week.
- Along the U.S. border, organizations are educating residents of colonias, neighborhoods made up of makeshift housing, on the importance of participating in the census, reports Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Despite residents, many of them undocumented, fears of speaking to authorities their participation is key to receiving government services.
- In New York, $20 million out of $60 million earmarked for Census outreach will be aimed at hard-to-reach communities, many of them immigrant communities, Gov. Cuomo announced Tuesday, reports NBC New York. (California has allocated more than $100 million).
- In Vermont, Governor Phil Scott announced the formation of a committee to ensure census participation with a focus on “hard-to-reach” groups, including undocumented immigrants, reports Vermont Business Magazine.
A new study revealed that low-income legal immigrants don’t move to access public or affordable healthcare, reports Vox. The findings contradict Trump’s comments that immigrants take advantage of the social safety net and instead could encourage states to expand healthcare coverage for immigrants.
José worries that his son with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder will be deported because of his run-ins with the law and he is not alone, reports NPR. Mental health advocates say that undocumented people with untreated mental illness are at high risk of having problems with the law that could lead to deportation.
The Supreme Court appears poised to end DACA, but the American public overwhelmingly supports the program, reports The New York Times. A poll shows that DACA enjoys more support than almost any other immigration policy, with 84 percent of Americans supporting it. More than 100 cities, counties and local governments have come out in support of DACA because they say ending it will harm their local economies, reports Newsy. This public support for DACA is one of the reasons activist and “Dreamer” Astrid Silva has become an important player in the Democratic race in Nevada, reports AP. Candidates are competing for her endorsement because they believe it represents approval from many immigrants. But she has not yet decided whether to endorse or who she would support.
Immigration is an International Issue
In 2000, when young men started migrating from a town in southern Mexico family dynamics started to shift. While the remittances helped the families escape the cycle of poverty, the absence of young men also led many women to break the mold of traditional gender roles. KJZZ spoke to cultural anthropologist Nora Haenn about her book that explores how migration affects mothers and wives.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom pardoned three immigrants at risk of deportation last week, an action that is becoming more common during his time in office. (The Sacramento Bee)
- The minimum investment for an EB-5 visa, which grants permanent residency in exchange for investment, increased this week from $500,000 to $900,000. (NBC News)
- A federal judge ruled Tuesday that migrants who passed through another country before reaching the U.S. cannot be denied asylum under a new rule if they arrived at the border before the policy was announced in July. (AP)
Immigration Resources & Opportunities
Recently released immigration books (got one, send it over)
- Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández. The law professor and crimmigration.com blog author explores how the U.S. came to lock up almost half a million migrants annually.
- Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration by Julie Hirschfield Davis and Michael Shear. The New York Times reporters probe Trump’s rise and its connection to the country’s attitudes toward foreigners.
- Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani. The NPR correspondent and co-founder of Families for Freedom’s memoir of her family’s battles with the immigration system.
- A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Immigration in the 21st Century by Jason DeParle. A chronicle of the age of global migration, told through the multi-generational saga of a Filipino family
- This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto by Suketu Mehta. An argument for why the United States and the West would benefit from accepting more immigrants
- Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die by Charles Kamasaki. An insider’s history and memoir of the battle for The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986: its evolution, passage, impact, and its legacies for the future of immigration reform
- Migration as a (Geo-)Political Challenge in the Post-Soviet Space by Olga R. Gulina, about how migration policy in post-USSR states can be used to gain geopolitical power or destabilize an area
- Cruz: A Cross-border Memoir by Jean Guerrero, about a daughter’s journey to understand her father
- The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story by Aaron Bobrow-Strain
- Refuge Beyond Reach, by David Scott FitzGerald, details how wealthy countries in the Global North systematically deny asylum seekers.
- A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, by Tom Gjelten, reports on how the US has changed since the 1965 immigration laws.
Newsletters, Podcasts, & Facebook Groups
- BIB Daily Edition is a free aggregation of “inside immigration news” (court cases, new regulations and the like) and “outside news” (culled from the mainstream and not-so-mainstream media).
- The Global Nation newsletter and Facebook group from PRI’s The World.
- Center for Migration Studies Migration Update is a weekly digest of news, faith reflections, and analysis of international migration and refugee protection.
- Migration Information Source from the Migration Policy Institute offers a series of newsletters.
- Documented NY’s Early Arrival newsletter aggregates information on immigration in New York and nationally.
- The Marshall Project newsletter: criminal justice news that regularly intersects with immigration.
- Politico’s Morning Shift newsletter: a daily read on employment and immigration.
- Give Me Your Tired, an (Im)migration Newsletter offers updates on global migration.
- Radio Public curates a list of podcasts about immigration and migration.
- Only Here is a KPBS podcast about the place where San Diego and Tijuana meet.
- ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? Podcast tells stories of Latino life “from the homeland to the heartland.”
- Tempest Tossed, a podcast with “conversations on immigration and refugees that go beyond the predictable soundbites.”
- Displaced, a podcast from the International Rescue Committee.
- A is for America America’s Voice discusses immigrant politics and organizing.
- Only in America National Immigration Forum’s podcast about the people behind immigration issues.
Curriculum & Campaigns
- We Have Rights is a campaign to educate immigrants about rights in encounters with ICE
- Ecologies of Migrant Care has collected nearly 100 interviews with migrants, activists, academics and other immigration experts to shed light on the reasons why Central Americans flee and detail the networks that have developed to help them along their journey.
- Moving Stories is an app and curriculum to capture and share immigrant stories.
- Re-imagining Migration has resources and lessons to teach about migration, immigration, refugees, and civic empowerment through history, literature, and the sciences
- The Advocates for Human Rights and the Immigration History Research Center at UMN free curriculum that helps students learn about U.S. immigration through personal narratives: Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project
- Freedom for Immigrants publishes an Immigration Detention Syllabus
Reporting resources, tools and tips
- Journalists who have been targeted for their work can send incident reports through the online platform of Press Freedom Tracker.
- No Refuge from Council on Foreign Relations’ InfoGuide series, includes an interactive map of origin and destination countries for refugees, and policy options that can help refugees and support host states.
- Covering Immigration Enforcement webinar from Poynter with Marshall Project contributing writer Julia Preston.
- The Pew Research Center offers a mini email course on immigration to the U.S.
- Tools for covering ICE from the Columbia Journalism Review
- Migration Reporting Resources (Global Investigative Journalism Network)
- Resources for Investigating Visas (Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting)
- Reporting on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants (90 Days, 90 Voices)
- Immigration Data Resources: An extensive, and growing, list of immigration resources curated by PRI’s Angilee Shah and shared as part of her presentation on finding immigration stories at NICAR 2018.
If there’s a story or immigration-related opportunity you think we should consider, please send us an email.
*Daniela Gerson is a co-founder and the editor of Migratory Notes. She is an assistant professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and senior fellow at the Center for Community and Ethnic Media(CCEM) at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York (CUNY). Previously she was a community engagement editor at the LA Times; editor of a trilingual hyperlocal publication, Alhambra Source; staff immigration reporter for the New York Sun; and a contributor to outlets including WNYC: New York Public Radio, The World, Der Spiegel, Financial Times, CNN, and The New York Times. She recently reported A Japanese American newspaper chronicles the ‘searing’ history of immigrant incarceration for PRI’s The World. You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson
*Elizabeth Aguilera is co-founder and executive editor of Migratory Notes. She is a multimedia reporter for CalMatters covering health care policy and social services, including immigration. Previously she reported on community health, for Southern California Public Radio. She’s also reported on immigration for the San Diego Union-Tribune, where she won a Best of the West award for her work on sex trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico; and worked for the Denver Post covering urban affairs and immigration. Her most recent story was California Democrats try again to provide health care to needy undocumented seniors. You can find her on Twitter @1eaguilera
*Yana Kunichoff is a special projects editor for Migratory Notes. She currently covers public education for Chalkbeat Chicago. She was project manager for Migrahack 2016 in Chicago. She has also produced feature-length documentaries and a pop-culture web series for Scrappers Film Group; worked as a fellow with City Bureau, where she won a March 2016 Sidney Hillman award for an investigation into fatal police shootings; and covered race and poverty issues for the Chicago Reporter. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Chicago magazine among others. You can find her on Twitter @yanazure
*Anna-Cat Brigida is a staff writer for Migratory Notes. She is a freelance reporter covering immigration and human rights in Mexico and Central America. She began covering immigration as a journalism student at USC Annenberg and later moved to Central America to work as a reporter. She has covered the region since 2015 and has been based in El Salvador since January 2018. She has also worked as a Spanish-language writer for Fusion out of the Mexico City office. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Guardian, Univision, LA Times, and Al Jazeera, among others. You can find her on Twitter @AnnaCat_Brigida
*Migratory Notes Advisory Board: Daniel Connolly, Maria Kari, Dan Kowalski, Paola Marizán, Mirta Ojito, Roberto Suro, Phuong Ly, Fernanda Santos